Beaver Creek ready to greet World Forum | VailDaily.com

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Beaver Creek ready to greet World Forum

AP photoVice President Dick Cheney addresses military personnel Friday, June 10, 2005, at the end of a Special Operations Forces Week conference at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. Cheney will be in the Vail Valley this weekend for the World Forum.

BEAVER CREEK – Summer tourists don’t see many participants of the annual World Forum at Beaver Creek, but the resort welcomes the party with open arms.”They could go anywhere in the world, but they come here. It’s great for us,” said Kathy Joseph, the co-owner of the Indian River Gallery.The forum, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, is mostly held behind closed doors. That was the plan former President Gerald Ford had when the forum started in 1981. But the prestige of hosting current and former government officials and industry bigwigs has polished Beaver Creek’s image, said Tony O’Rourke, the resort’s executive director.”It’s like the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland,” O’Rourke said. “It’s an honor to host it.”

And, while most of the forum participants stay out of the public eye, they do hit some of the shops.”We get a couple of grandparents in our shop to buy gifts for their grandchildren,” said Barbara Smith, owner of Le Petit Skier. “It doesn’t really impact us much, but it’s nice to see them here. The word of mouth is always good.”It also doesn’t hurt that the forum participants are pretty much the heart of Beaver Creek’s target market: successful, predominantly wealthy people who travel.O’Rourke said business leaders who come to the forum often come back with corporate retreats and meetings. Sometimes, he said, those same executives will buy property.With the number of important people at the resort, it’s easy to think it would be hard to get around. That isn’t the case, O’Rourke said.

“It doesn’t impact Beaver Creek at all,” he said. There have been any number of events scheduled the same weekend as the forum over the years. This year, there’s an antiques festival.While many of the foreign leaders bring bodyguards, they usually don’t interfere with anything else at the resort.The only tie-ups the past few years have been caused when Vice President Dick Cheney comes and goes, and those delays are brief.”They’re only blocking the roundabouts for a couple of minutes to get him through,” O’Rourke said.Joseph has seen forum participants come and go since she and her husband opened their gallery in the late 1980s. She isn’t tired of it.

“It’s exciting to have them here,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado